Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The House Where Clara Grew Up

Some time between 1910 and 1913, Clara Paxton went to Valley Falls, Kansas, to live with her Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sue Overholser, who had no children of their own. Her mother, Grace Overholser Paxton, had died in 1901, before Clara turned two, and her father George Bailey Paxton died in 1910. Clara and her brother Burton were living with their grandmother Paxton in Independence, Missouri, in 1910 (down the street from the future Mrs. Harry Truman), but some time before 1913 they left her home. Clara went to Valley Falls and Burton to his aunt Hattie Overholser Jones in Columbus, Kansas.

(At left is a picture of Main Street in Valley Falls in 1909; the population in 1910 was 1150.)

Clara lived with Charlie and Sue until she finished high school in 1918. Now, thanks to some recently posted newspaper archives online, I think I've found some information about just where she lived.

The picture at left is from the front page of the July 27, 1906, issue of the Farmers Vindicator, the newspaper in Valley Falls. With the headline "An Historic Corner," the accompanying article talks about an old local hotel called the Cataract House (cataract being another word for waterfall--who knew?). Most of the article describes the hotel, which was built in 1857, but the last paragraphs touch on our family in explaining why the hotel is no longer there:
In 1880 the Cataract House was purchased by Mrs. Susan M. Gardiner, of Winchester, which under the management of J. J. Gardiner continued a popular hotel for 20 years. . . .About the end of the century the Cataract was closed as a hotel and the property was transferred to Susan E. Gardiner, now Mrs. Chas. L. Overholser. The work of removing and tearing down the old house began in the Fall of 1901 and in the year following the present modern cottage home of Mr. and Mrs. Overholser was completed.
Herein are illustrations of the old house and the new. The first lights in the Cataract House were tallow candles, then sperm, a burning fluid lamp, and later the Kerosene Chandelier. The Overholser home is brilliantly lighted by electricity in every room, and even out to the wood house and the hen house.
So from reading this and later newspaper items about Charlie and Sue, I feel fairly sure that the house pictured is the one where the Overholsers lived while Clara was with them.

More nuggets from the Vindicator to come.


Apple said...

Great find!

Jean said...

Glad to see some new information on the family. Really appreciate your efforts on this.
Love to all.